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Volume 2, Issue 2
Summer 2006:

Letters to Sam: A Grandfather's Lessons on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life by Daniel Gottlieb

Review by: William Zeckhausen

Cell 2 Soul. 2006 Summer; 2(2):a10

Sterling (2006); 176 pages; ISBN: 1402728832

For twenty years, Dan Gottlieb has hosted a call-in psychology radio show, Voices in the Family, broadcast from Philadelphia's NPR affiliate. For ten years, he has written a column for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Through letters, listener comments, and his psychotherapy practice, he has learned about the cruelties, courage and compassion that touch us all. As he writes in the introduction of his book, Letters to Sam: A Grandfather's Lessons on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life, "Books taught me a bit about psychology. But paralysis taught me to sit still and keep my ears and heart open so I could listen."

For over 25 of his 60 years, Dan has been quadriplegic. He explains that quadriplegia puts the body at risk. He feared he wouldn't live long enough to be known by his grandson, Sam, or to share with him the life lessons he has learned. When Sam was two, he was diagnosed with autism. Dan writes, "I wept for Sam. I realized that I had more than ever to tell him. I wanted to teach him what I've learned about fighting against the kind of adversity that I face almost daily, and fear he will face also. And I wanted to tell him how peace often comes to us when we simply stop fighting."

I have heard Dan speak at two Healing and Spirituality Conferences, so I know his ability to penetrate our defenses and reach those soft spots that many of us intentionally or unconsciously hide. It is not surprising that Dan is able to do the same in his writing. Nor is it surprising that his publishers believe the book's impact will be similar to Tuesdays with Morrie.

Before his accident, Dan felt it was a struggle to be part of the "in" group. After the accident, sitting in his wheel chair, he observed that most people would, or could, not look at him. He had become a nonperson. Helpless and dependent 24/7, he was everyone's worst nightmare. Once he knew he could never be part of the "in" group, he was freed to be himself.

Dan's wise words have the potential to enable us to find, enjoy, and live our deepest self. He is a truly powerful wounded healer. In Letters to Sam, Dan speaks to all of us. Read this book!!

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